Sunni militants brought their campaign against the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki closer to Baghdad on Monday, attacking a police convoy just 20 miles from the center of the capital and triggering a shootout that left at least 81 people dead.

Rebels of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham struck the convoy in Babil province on the main highway leading south from Baghdad. In the exchange of fire that followed, at least 71 prisoners in police custody, five policemen and five insurgents were killed, security officials said.

In a gruesome sign of the Sunni-Shiite hatred now fueling the conflict, into its third week, the bodies of 15 Shiite fighters were returned to the town of Basheer, 2 miles south of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. […]